The Grand Canal at Sunset (Venice, Italy)

“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”

– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

The Grand Canal at Sunset (Venice, Italy)

The Grand Canal at Sunset (Venice, Italy)

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a Venice picture but felt the need to go back through some images from our 2013 Italy trip (five cities in two weeks) over the weekend. I love reliving vacations through photos. This last trip to Paris we actually used the GoPro a bit and captured some video as well. Those were fun re-watching this weekend to. The sounds of the city bring back memories as well so we will certainly be using that more frequently.

The Bridge of Sighs (Venice, Italy)

The “Bridge of Sighs” located in Venice, Italy passes over the Rio de Palazzo canal and connects the ‘New Prison’ with the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace (The Doge of Venice is the leading authority in the city of Venice).

Built in 1600, the view from this spot (on the covered bridge) was the last glimpse of Venice that the convicts saw before their imprisonment (likely for the remainder of their lives). Thus, as criminals were led over the bridge they’d peer through the barred windows at this view of the Rio de Palazzo leading out to the Grand Canal and regret the actions they’d taken that led to this point of their lives – sighing as they made their way into the cells.

The Bridge of Sighs (Venice, Italy)

The view from the Bridge of Sighs (Venice, Italy)

Couples in Venice can often be found riding in gondolas under this bridge and kissing directly underneath it. Local legend (perhaps made up by the gondola industry? Which in my humble opinion is very overpriced) states that couples will be granted eternal bliss with a well-timed kiss at sunset under the bridge.

The Blues of Venice

The only morning in Venice, Italy that I got up to take pictures at sunrise there was a little bit of light rain in the morning and the overcast sky blocked the nice colors of the sunrise that are on display in the distance. Across the grand canal on the opposite bank lies the San Giorgio Maggiore Church (which we did not have the opportunity to visit) which was famously painted by Monet (picture linked here) at dusk and sunset from a similar spot as this photograph. Monet felt that Venice was too beautiful to be painted and thus many of his paintings of Venice remained unfinished presumably because he didn’t think they captured the beauty as good as he hoped.

The Blue Hues of Venice – Venice, Italy

The Blues of Venice Italy

Monet is partly right too as being there in the moment is a much more magical experience. However, I like the motion of the boats in the water and the pink hues from the sunrise on the horizon. It adds a little sense of magic to the image.

Behind the Golden Altar

The Golden Altar at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy is an amazing display of Byzantine architecture in the world. The church which sits on the Grand Canal in St. Mark’s square is remarkable. The Golden Altar is known for the Pala d’Oro which is a panel of gold with gems inlaid in it. Originally commissioned in the 900s it has survived throughout many attempts to dismember it – Napolean stole a few gems but it remains largely intact. Here behind the altar I set my camera on a ledge and pointed it at the ceiling framing the cross and the statues of the saints against the backdrop of the golden dome.

Behind the Golden Altar

Golden Altar in Venice

I got in trouble for positioning my camera as I did so I wasn’t able to take anymore shots. I believe it cost a euro or two to go up in this area where you could get up close with the altar. Well worth it of course.

The Masks of Venice

Almost exactly a year ago we flew to Venice, Italy to start our two week tour through the best of Italy (Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Florence and finally Rome). Venice hosts Carnival annually and the masks are a staple of this celebration. The good ones are made of papier-mache while the more touristy ones like those in sold at one of these stands near the canal are made from plastic. We spoke with one of the more famous mask makers in Venice (he has created the masks for many hollywood movies – such as the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut) but ultimately decided not to purchase one because we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to keep it in one piece traveling throughout the rest of Italy. It would have made for an interesting piece of wall art though.

This year we are sitting in the Dallas airport ready to make the connecting flight to Belize this afternoon for what should be a much more relaxing vacation without the go, go, go of trying to hit five cities in a short time span. We only have a few things planned and the weather looks like it is going to hold up so hopefully we get to enjoy a little bit of the warmth after the never-ending winter in Chicago.

The Masks of Venice – Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Happy Easter everyone!

St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy

As you can see it was a gloomy day in Venice but a gloomy day there is better than most days other places. We climbed the steps to the top of St. Mark’s Basilica to take in the sweeping views of the square below. Despite the weather the square was still alive with people bustling all over the place – most of them tourists but also locals mixed in. The rain didn’t last too long but it remained gloomy throughout most of our days on the island. Venice was overwhelming at times given the amount of tourists on the island and the limited amount of space to get around.

Photo of the Day – The View from St. Mark’s Square

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This was the day I tried vermicelli al nero di seppia at dinner. It is a pasta dish that is considered a delicacy in Venice – they mix the pasta with a black squid ink sauce. The sauce is definitely black and not like the tomato based sauces you usually associate with pasta and thus I ate it with some skepticism but it tasted pretty good. It was only when I spoke to my wife that I realized why the waitress had asked me twice if I was sure that I wanted it (since I was wearing a white button down shirt)…the ink had splattered all onto my shirt and parts of my teeth were blacked out as if I missing a few. I started alternating bites with water which I swished around in my mouth in an effort to not have the ink settle on my teeth and stain them. I don’t know if that would actually happen but I already have enough issues with my teeth to take any chances!

Night on the Grand Canal

You know what the problem is with most travelers? They try to travel at the wrong time. I understand the need to be flexible around school schedules and things like that but really for the most part travel isn’t overly expensive as long as you can be flexible with your dates. Take our trip to Europe last year – we saved 30,000 miles (each) by taking the travel during the ‘offseason’ of April instead of two weeks later at the beginning of May. Sure there is a higher likelihood that you will have to deal with some poor weather but those are great days to head indoors and take in a museum or something like cultural like that.

This article (Do Americans Just Travel Wrong?) addresses a few other areas that we can improve upon to increase the joy (and cost effectiveness) of your next trip.

Photo of the Day – The Grand Canal at Night

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Walking the labyrinth that are the streets of Venice is pretty damn confusing. However, you ultimately will run into a canal and as long as you can follow that back in the general direction of your hotel and be able to find your way back (even if you may have had a few too many glasses of wine). As we walked back to our hotel at the end of our first day in Venice I set up the camera on the historical Rialto Bridge and took a few pictures.

Rainy Morning in Venice

Our first morning in Venice we had some rain that lingered through much of the day. I went out early in hopes of catching the sunrise but the grey clouds blocked the color from coming through. In the distance you can see the pink tone of the sunrise but it just never quite came into the sky elsewhere.

Photo of the Day – Rainy Morning in Venice

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The Colors of Venice

One of the first things we noticed when we got to Venice were the pink street lamps in San Marco square. They served as a nice contrast against the only blue sky we saw for the first week of our vacation. It seems to always rain for the first week of our vacation – the little things that bother me – of course when I’m trying to take pictures I prefer the grey skies during the day but I hate them in the mornings or the evenings.

Photo of the Day – Pink Street Lamps of Venice

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Venice Traffic

After a death on the canals a couple weeks back Venice is finally introducing some more stringent rules and regulations for traffic in the canals. When we were there back in April the only word I could think of to describe it was ‘chaos’. There were boats going in all directions – big garbage boats, small gondola boats, speed/power boats, etc… Many of these folks undoubtedly were not licensed to operate their respective vehicles and/or they were under the influence of some afternoon enjoyments. Recently, George Clooney came under investigation for operating a boat without a proper license so apparently the Polizia are getting more strict.

Photo of the Day – Canals in the Afternoon

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We did not take a gondola ride while we were there – I have to say after seeing the ‘gondoliers’ I can’t imagine why anyone would want to experience this. For one, the cost of a ride is absurd but secondly the gondoliers all seem exactly the opposite of what I’d imagine. Most of them – despite spending hours rowing tourists around the canal – are out of shape, smoke cigarettes and our loud and obnoxious. I’m sure there is the occasional guide who doesn’t fit this description but most of the ones we saw fit this exactly.